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College Station City Council votes 5-2 to adopt Restricted Occupancy Overlay

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 9:38 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The College Station City Council voted 5-2 to adopt the Restricted Occupancy Overlay, known as the ROO, at Monday’s meeting.

The ROO gives individual neighborhoods the option to petition the city for an overlay that restricts the number of unrelated people who can live in a home in that subdivision to two. A successful petition requires 50% +1 of property owners in that respective neighborhood to sign asking for the ROO.

After months of public input meetings, draft revision, and back and forth between advocates and opponents, the ROO went in front of the city council for a final vote. Council deliberated if it was a necessary option for neighborhoods to have at their disposal.

“That’s really what we’re going to be talking about tonight,” College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said. “Is the ROO the right tool or do we have other things already on the books perhaps that could be enhanced or better enforced to achieve the same result?”

Council also had to weigh a 4-3 recommendation made by the Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday for them to adopt the ROO against a petition opposing the ROO that had nearly 4,000 signatures by the time council began its meeting Monday.

Some amendments were made to the ROO’s general provisions, standards, and legacy clause before it was passed by the council.

Mayor Mooney and Councilmember Elizabeth Cunha voted against the ROO’s adoption.

It took over five hours of discussion and deliberation before city council took their final vote. Over 40 speakers from across the community expressed their competing opinions on the ordinance during the public comment period of the meeting for over two of those hours.

Richard Woodward is the president of the College Station Association of Neighborhoods (CSAN) and among those in support of the ROO’s passage.

“We believe this is an important step forward in providing a way for neighborhoods to take control of the quality and character of where they live,” Woodward said. “We’ve been wanting this for a very long time.”

The Bryan-College Station Regional Association of Realtors is among those against the ROO. They say they’re prepared to help those who could find themselves adversely affected by the ordinance.

“We will work with our members in the realtor community specifically to help their clients kind of walk through what this might mean for them in neighborhoods that could potentially pass a ROO,” Adam Easton, who is the government affairs coordinator for the association, said.

Woodward says the next step for CSAN is to help neighborhoods that want to adopt the ROO.

“If you look at the handbook, it’s a complicated process,” Woodward said. “We’re going to work with neighborhood advocates in areas that want to adopt the ROO and help them go through the process. We’re not going to be coming in from the outside and pushing for this. Rather, we’re just going to be facilitating neighborhoods that want to do what they consider the right thing for their neighborhood.”

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